The best leadership book I’ve encountered in years isn’t ostensibly about leading. The book is Teaching by Heart: One Professor’s Journey to Inspire, by Thomas J. DeLong at Harvard.
I was initially drawn to the book because of my passion for teaching. I didn’t realize I was going to uncover such a great perspective on getting leadership right along the way.
When I picked it up, I did something with this book I rarely do in my life—I read it from cover-to-cover in one sitting. Tom’s sheer passion for teaching as a leader in the classroom and his willingness to be vulnerable about his shortcomings kept me turning the pages. I was enthralled by Tom as a person, and captivated by the leadership lessons that jumped out of the pages.
Reading this book from a leadership perspective will change you. Listening to Tom on this fascinating podcast is frosting on this beautiful gift he’s given us.
(Check out the Show Highlights below)
Why teaching is so important to Tom and where it started–from grade school to being a student in Stephen Covey’s classroom (3:10)
Why time as a teacher in the classroom is sacred time—and yes it creates pre-class apprehension and tough self-evaluation after class (5:06)
What Tom wishes he would have thought more about during his career (6:08)
Tom connects the role of managing with teaching (7:20)
The most important responsibility you have as a leader (8:40)
A provocative question for leaders at all stages of their lives/careers and what we tend to get wrong (10:00)
Executives: “Do you communicate vertically or horizontally?” (13:45)
The boardroom epiphany that translated to a career-long commitment to teaching and an understanding purpose (15:30)
Your career won’t be linear and what it means (17:40)
Six Dimensions of Success as a Teacher and how they fit the world of leadership (18:14) and the three questions you must be crystal clear about in your life.
Tom reads a letter from a student that packs a powerful leadership punch & what he learned from it (19:45)
Why it’s always the one negative out of 100 positives that rents the most space in our mind (21:20)
The parallels between preparing for a new course and starting up with a new team and some spectacular leadership insights (24:40)
What the morning before the first session is like and why Tom wants to change professions just for that moment (27:00)
The power of being in “all in” at the moment (28:00)
How Tom knows “when it’s working” (29:00)
What happens when you make a mistake with a person. “I took the bait.” Ideas for recovery (32:00)
The lesson for all of us from the Case of Joanna (35:15)
Tom’s parting guidance for that manager or leader who truly wants to get it right in their work. Hint: it’s not a solo event…you need to get help from others (38:30)